Archive for the ‘Thinking principles’ Category

I chose the King as the second piece in priority to describe, since it is the most valuable piece at all times during any chess game but the least powerful at the beginning and in the middle of a chess game .

Without the King, the game is simply over.  One can survive a game without a Queen, but never without the King. This important fact result in some special handling and way to regard both your own King as well as the opponent’s King.

All beginning chess players are taught that we need to protect the King at all times  in chess. This is true and an important learning to be followed as a general rule but as with all rules, the more you

learn about the game, the more important it is to know when to  to break those initial beginner rules to become a master of the game. Rules should never be followed blindly in any aspect. There are always special conditions that allow for you to break them.

Let’s start with what is always valid in any chessgame regarding the King and its consequences.

1. If checked, and no other piece can block the check, it simply has to be able to move or it is defined as checkmated and you have lost the game.

That means, that you should be aware of all possible checks at all times. And understand the consequences for YOUR KING better then your opponent.

If you have calculated that one particular check won’t give the opponent a special advantage in the long run, then you might even be able to use that knowledge in your own favor and lure him into an “allowed” check.

2. A moved King, disqualifies your right to castle with the King. 

Yes, since castling is a way to get your King safe and make a rook active at the same time, a special move, loosing that option is of course a disadvantage.

But it does not mean it is the end of the world or that the game is lost because it happens. Sometimes a King is better of, moved one step to the side, then to later make a wrongly analyzed and executed castling move, just because it was still available as an option. Castling is just a special rule, every unique game decides if you really need to use that special rule or not.  It is a privilege, not an obligation or mandatory.

3. A castled King is always a fixed attack target for the opponent. A piece of  very classified information given voluntarily by YOU to the opponent.

An un-castled but castling-able  King is actually making the opponent a bit nervous. Where will your King go or castle? How should he put his pieces to attack it? With that knowledge, it is easier for to aim the troops and the “cannons”. Without that fact, he has to think harder where to place his troops so they can be flexible. Some piece may be put at a spot where it will never be useful to attack your King in time. Remember that its not always a GOOD thing to castle, because you also convey the opponent with a LOT of information he can use to his advantage.

4. The Kings are as understood more powerful the less pieces there are on the board.

What does that tell us? Well, it says that if you can trick the opponent into an end game where your King has a way to be more powerful, either by mere position or by the way the pieces are standing and enabling your King to take advantage, then you got a winning game. That means that you do have to always think about the Kings relative powers in the term of, is there any endgame as a consequence of what I play? Will I then be better off with my King than my opponent?

 5. Attacking the opponent’s King, the name of the game?

I got as advice to always play for the King, when I first started to play chess, when I was about 10. Now decades later, I kind of think this advice hold up quite well. Surely you cannot always play for the King, but doing so as much as possible at the same time as you play material will surely be a winning strategy.

Sometimes chess is about small small advantages or material winnings. But without doubt, if you can get one little combo move that actually threatens the kings situation at the same time, then you have some serious advantage. The opponent has to respond and find a strong defense AND defend the positional or material threat.

6. Forgetting your own King is a death sin in chess. 

Yes, sometimes we get carried away and think about small little positional advantages or that big winning material combination.  And it sometimes gets a bit too complicated to even know if your King will remain safe. If this is the situation, don’t play the variation. You are not playing Yatzy, you are playing chess. If you can’t guarantee your Kings safety in each variation, you simply lost control of the game and put it in the hands of randomness or your opponent.

(To be revised and updated, please feel free to comment if you have additional views of substance)















The top most important chess principles for a better game.

1. Finish your thinking with a mistake scan/check and THEN move.

1. Mistake check . No matter at what level you play at, you can make a mistake. And it is that constant insight knowing that you can and will make a mistake in any situation if you don’t stay alert for it, especially when you are confident and on the top, most players make the biggest mistakes.

When we are defending or struggling in an equal position the risk of making a mistake is smaller because then we are alert to the fact that one mistake will make us loose the game immediately.

This principle is the simplest, most important but also the easiest to ignore.

Learn this principle, keep discipline with this principle and your chess will improve A LOT. It is also the simple but clear difference between a master player and a so so player…

2. Why did opponent move like that and what is his plan?

2. Opponent’s plan. Chess is a game between two players. Whenever your opponent moved, he provides you with a clue what his goal for the game is and what his immediate plan might be and what type of player he is. Collect all those clues at all times.

If you fail to collect even one, at any given time, it could mean the end of the game. It is that important to never ignore the opponent’s move and be too selfcentred and focused about your own plans!

3. Don't shoot any blanks at any time!Always play useful moves.

3. Don’t shoot blanks! Try to play good useful moves at all times. Don’t shoot blanks at any point during the whole game, especially not when you have an even game or is down in material or even worse – position!

This is a very common beginner’s mistake and a clear difference between very advanced players and standard club players. The world champion in chess may do one or two small mistakes during the whole game but never plays a blank move during the whole game. Whereas a clubplayer may do 5-10 mistakes and 10-30 blank moves during the game.

Sooner or later an opponent will play a lesser number of blank moves than you and you will loose loose “game time” (I will explain that concept below) and valuable moves thanks to those “blank” nonuseful moves you played.

The best move is of course an aggressive move that wins unconditionally of what the opponent moves next. For example a move that threatens a mate without the opponent able to stop it in anyway. Let’s call those moves unstoppable attack moves.  It is not always possible to surely decide if a move is unstoppable or not. If it is very clear that a move will result in unstoppable mate or material loss in next move, well then it is of course easy. But often the case is that it demands an exact analysis and the needed amount of thinking time to decide whether a move is unstoppable or not in number of moves ahead into the game. To play an unstoppable move, demands that you have a good skill in calculating ahead and that you are 100 % sure of what possibilities will occur some moves ahead.

The next best move is where you can combine a strong move with a strong defense move.  Let’s call them combo moves. Always look out for combo moves! They allow you to safely play on, without an exact analysis and still have control of the game until you can surely find a safe unstoppable attack move.

If you cannot find a combo move – then play a consolidation move. With that I mean a move that consolidates and secures your position from attack. In essence making your king and your material (the rest of the pieces) safe in all possible angles. Often a move like that can annoy the opponent a whole lot because that may deprive him or her from a game plan. There is nothing worse for a chessplayer then to play moves without a plan. It is demoralising and often allure him to make worthless moves that makes his position worse then it was before the move. A player needs a plan and a goal to play purposeful moves and to feel purposeful throughout his whole game.

(To be continued)